Caring Neighbors (Luke 10:25-37)

The Good Samaritan story reminds us that Christ calls us to draw a wider circle as we bring compassion, healing, and hope to others. The 3 Great Loves initiative is giving congregations across the denomination a forum for sharing stories about the way that they are practicing being Good Samaritans.

An example of a Good Samaritan is the Spring Creek UCC congregation in Rockford, Illinois.  Since December 2015, the congregation has provided household goods and supplies to ten families moving from homelessness into an apartment through their Adopt An Apartment Initiative (AAA).  “The generosity of the congregation in donating items has been outstanding and we are very grateful to our dedicated group of volunteers who have helped to transport the items and clean and stage the apartments,” the congregation reports.

Hadwen Park Congregational UCC, Worcester, Massachusetts, reaches out to the LGBT people escaping from countries where it is illegal and dangerous to be themselves. These asylum seekers are unable to work or receive public assistance while awaiting asylum, so the congregation gives them a shared apartment, food, cell phone, a small stipend, help finding medical care and legal representation. The asylum seekers are also into the church community for spiritual care and a sense of community and friendship. The congregation has supported as many as two dozen asylum seekers at a time.

Zion United Church of Christ, in Hubbard, Iowa, has extended their definition of neighbor to include those living 2000 miles away. The rural congregation is demonstrating love of neighbor by collecting over 1,100 needed items for two UCLA Mobile Health Clinics for the homeless living in Los Angeles.  Zion UCC has provided travel sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, as well as underwear, flashlights, shoes, and many other necessary and much needed items to their neighbors.

These congregations, and many others, are redrawing the lines of what it means to be a neighbor, drawing the circle ever wider.  How is your congregation a Good Samaritan?  Tell your story!

3 Great Loves is the United Church of Christ’s denomination-wide storytelling initiative. Telling the story of how we are living out God’s love and expressing love of neighbor, children and creation, 3 Great Loves demonstrates how our denomination lives out the love of God and creates a just world for all.


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A Parable of Unity

During Vacation Bible School, one of the teachers had an experience with her primary class that she will never forget.  Her class was interrupted on Wednesday about an hour before dismissal when a new student was brought in.  The little boy had one arm missing and, since the class was almost over, she had no opportunity to learn any of the details about the cause of his state of adjustment.

She was very nervous and afraid that one of the other children would comment on his handicap and embarrass him.  There was no opportunity to caution them, so she proceeded as carefully as possible.

As the class time came to a close, she began to relax.  She asked the class to join her in their usual closing ceremony.  “Let’s make our churches,” she said.  “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and there’s…”  The awful truth of her own actions struck her.  The very thing she had feared that the children would do, she had done.  As she stood there speechless, the little girl sitting next to the boy reached over with her left hand and placed it up to his right hand and said, “Davey, let’s  make the church together.”

The story may be seen as a parable of our search for one in Christ:  to put our inadequate, handicapped lives alongside the lives of others and to pray, “Let’s make the church together!”

“There is one body,” says Paul.  Unity does not just happen; we have to work at it.  Often, differences among people can lead to division, but this should not be true in the church.  Instead of concentrating on what divides us, we should remember what unites us:  One body, one spirit, one future calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God!

Can you appreciate people who are different from you?  Can you see how their differing gifts and viewpoints can help the church as it does God’s work? This week, read the epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter 4, and become the church God expects of God’s people.

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Bluffton Food Pantry Needs for June and July

The Bluffton food pantry needs to replenish their shelves. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. Donations are always down in the summer.  Please try to avoid glass containers. 

Items needs are

Cereal and oatmeal, creamy peanut butter, chunky soups, canned fruit (particularly mandarin oragnes); spaghetti sauce, tuna, baked beans, shampoo, body lotions and creams, women’s deodorant, paper towels, kleenex, toilet paper.

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Cardboard Toilet Tissue Rolls Needed

Vacation Bible School is in need of your empty cardboard toilet tissue rolls.  Please bring them into the church and place them in the box at the back of the sanctuary.  St. John’s hosts Vacation Bible School July 21 through July 25.

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Summer Hours Begin June 2

Our summer worship schedule will begin on Sunday, June 2, at 10 a.m.  Adult Christian Education classes will meet at 9 a.m.

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Calling All Musicians

During the summer months the St. John’s choir members are on hiatus.  If you, or someone you know, is musically talented and would like to offer special music for a worship service during the months of June through August, please inform Pastor Carol or Nancy Yeager.

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Church Camp Registration Forms Available

Registration forms are available for Templed Hills, our UCC church camp, from Pastor Carol. If you have never attended grandparents camp with your grandchild(ren), Pastor Carol highly recommends it. Please see her to learn of her wonderful memories and experiences at camp with her grandchildren.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for July 14:  Holy One, we gather as your people, giving thanks that we can be together to hear your word, offer our prayers, and sing your praises. Draw us together in your love, that we may know you more deeply. Open our hearts to a deeper understanding of your will and work within our lives, that we may produce the fruit of compassion.  Amen.

Sunday, July 14–Worship, 10 a.m.; Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled “Who Is My Neighbor?” and is based on Luke 10:25-37 (the Good Samaritan).

A coffee hour follows in Oppermann Hall.

Monday, July 15–VBS meeting, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, July 16–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.; decorate for VBS,

6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 17–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, July 18–Community dinner at Senior Center, 6 p.m.

Saturday, July 20–Food pantry distribution, 8 to 11 a.m.









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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  May 28, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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